DENHAM SADLER
May 30, 2018

SA to meet Bezos' moon outfit

Space

SA to meet Bezos' moon outfit

Location matters: South Australia wants to play in space with Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin

The South Australian government is set to meet with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin to discuss the state’s potential role in the aerospace company’s mission to the moon.

It was revealed by InnovationAus.com last week that Blue Origin, an ambitious, privately-funded space venture company led by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, had formally invited the newly founded Australian space agency to play a role in its mission to achieve space tourism and establish a human lunar presence.

Speaking to InnovationAus.com at the Australasian Satellite forum in Sydney, Blue Origin commercial director Ted McFarland said Australia has a lot of potential to contribute to the company’s lofty goals.

“We would really like to explore it. There’s a lot of talent here. There’s a lot of land here. So if I want to put in a space tourism business, I think you’ve got some land available and I think you’ve got some great people to work on the problem. So yeah, this is a formal invitation to discuss,” Mr McFarland said.

“We would love to have Australia come join us on the stage in Bremen, Germany with Jeff in September at the International Aeronautical Congress and be part of a group announcement. We’re going back to the moon and we’re going to stay. So yes, we’re ready and able to have that conversation with the government of Australia.”

This invitation was quickly welcomed by new South Australian premier Steven Marshall and federal innovation minister Michaelia Cash.

“I have made it very clear that the state government wants to make South Australia the undisputed champion of the space industry, and we are positioning ourselves to have the operations of the national space agency located in our state,” Mr Marshall said.

The South Australian government has shown quick interest in playing a major role in the space agency’s potential collaboration with Blue Origin’s space missions. The government is yet to meet with the US-based company, but this meeting is set to take place at a major conference in October this year, South Australian Space Industry Centre chief executive Richard Price said.

“At this stage the South Australian government has not met with Blue Origin to discuss space tourism and establishing a moon base. There will be a delegation of South Australian industry at the 2018 International Astronautical Congress so this could create an opportunity for discussion with Blue Origin about how the state could be involved in any future activity in Australia,” Mr Price told InnovationAus.com.

Blue Origin’s direct offer to Australia has been welcomed by the local space sector, but Saber Astronautics director Jason Held said it’s important that the big global players don’t get in the way of smaller Australian companies.

“Now that Australia has a space agency, it’s natural for the wider world to do business with us. A Blue Origin deal would be very interesting for the launch sector here and may prompt the government to streamline regulations letting us fly,” Dr Held told InnovationAus.com.

“However, we don’t want to compete with our own manufacturing sector and any deal must consider the effects on Australian rocket startups working on sovereign launch capabilities like VC-funded Gilmour Space Systems. Any deal will need to protect our local manufacturers.”

It comes after Mr Bezos recently outlined his ambitious goals for Blue Origin at a recent space conference in the US. The company plans for lunar exploration and the eventual human settlement of the moon, saying “this is not something that we may choose to do, this is something we must do”.

Mr Bezos said Blue Origin is the “most important work” he is currently doing.

“We must go back to the moon, and this time to stay,” he said.

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